Thomas Strelich’s “Dog Logic” is not quite what you’d expect from Costa Mesa Playhouse, a wonderfully intimate community theatre on the campus of an elementary school in a residential neighborhood. But then this off-kilter seriocomedy probably wasn’t quite what patrons expected when it was first staged at South Coast Repertory in 1988.
It’s best to go (through October 6) without any preconceived notions, but go you should if you like thought-provoking, unpredictable theatre that doesn’t necessarily color within the lines. Let’s just say this four-character two-act play somewhat resembles the work of Sam Shepard—for whom the playwright acknowledged some affection during an after-show Q&A.
Keith Bush is commanding as Hertel, the self-styled philosopher and pet cemetery owner. Alex Dorman is hilarious as a janitor-turned-wheeler dealer. Kay Richey is fine as free-spirited Anita, though she looks a bit young to be Hertel’s mother; Carrie Theodossin is unconvincing as police officer Kaye, Hertel’s ex. Sharyn Case directs the revival with confidence and imagination. Visit www.CostaMesaPlayhouse.com.
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The moment Rachel York opens her mouth to sing “I Get a Kick Out of You,’ about five minutes into the revival of “Anything Goes” (at Segerstrom Center for the Arts through September 29—hurry!), you know she’s got the goods. And she delivers like a seasoned pro as goodtime girl Reno Sweeney in this shipshape revival of the evergreen Wodehouse-Bolton-Lindsey-Crouse show, sharply directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall.
What Reno sees in stockbroker Billy Crocker isn’t quite clear, and Josh Franklin doesn’t do much for the part. Fortunately the rest of the principal cast is superb, notably Fred Applegate (gangster-in-disguise, Moonface Martin), Alex Finke (Billy’s crush, Hope Harcourt), Edward Staudenmayer (Hope’s beau, Lord Oakleigh), and Joyce Chittick (oversexed dimwit Erma).
It’s the Cole Porter songs like “You’re the Top,” of course, that make the show memorable (“Friendship” and “It’s De-lovely,” added for the revival, only multiply the fun).
The book itself holds up pretty well, apart from a bit of stereotypical dialect talk by two peripheral Chinese characters. A show progressive enough to feature a mixed-race chorus, with African Americans suggested as romantic partners to Caucasians, could have changed it up here; an anachronistic joke about Fatty Arbuckle presumably added for the revival should have been excised as well. But let’s not quibble; you’re unlikely to see a better production in your lifetime. Call 714-556-2787.
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Where to dine before the show in Costa Mesa #1—Scott’s
Where to dine before the show in Costa Mesa #3—Leatherby’s
Where to dine before the show in Costa Mesa #4—Seasons 52
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